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What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage and When Does it Apply?

UM/UIM is coverage that is available through your own car insurance policy. “UM” stands for “Underinsured Motorist” coverage and “UIM” stands for “Uninsured Motorist” coverage. These are two separate coverages that apply in two distinct circumstances. Both coverages apply only when your auto accident is the fault of another. If the accident is your own fault, you won’t be covered by UM/UIM.

Uninsured motorist coverage applies when you have been involved in an auto accident with someone who does not have any auto insurance, or is an excluded driver. If the other driver is at fault but has no insurance coverage available, you will be glad if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is not the same as “full” coverage. Full coverage means that your car is covered even if it is your fault. You can have liability coverage only and still have uninsured motorist coverage.

The first step to making an uninsured motorist coverage claim is establishing that the individual who struck does not have any valid auto insurance. If the other party previously had insurance, but allowed it to lapse, you would need to obtain documentation from that auto insurance company demonstrating the lapse in coverage. If the other party is specifically excluded from an otherwise valid policy, you’ll need documentation showing the exclusion. Once you have provided your insurance company with the necessary documentation, your insurance company may still reject your uninsured motorist claim on the basis of availability of assets. The individual who struck your vehicle may not have insurance, but may have assets available to pay a claim. This means that your attorney will have to pursue the other party directly for additional compensation. For example, if your vehicle is struck by a wealthy oil man, and he has no auto insurance, he still has money to pay for your damages. You are required to pursue him directly, and your insurance company will expect you to hire a lawyer and do so.

If the other party has no insurance, and has no assets, then your uninsured motorist claim will move forward. It is important to understand that just because you are now dealing with your own insurance company, it doesn’t mean that they will just hand over the money. Your insurance company will “stand in the shoes” of the other insurance company, continuing to argue and negotiate the claim on the basis of its strengths and weaknesses.
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The Voss Law Firm, P.C. represents clients on a local, national and international basis. We proudly serve companies and individuals along the Gulf Coast and around the globe on a contingency fee basis. Our law firm collects nothing unless we recover on our client's behalf.

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